Island School sweeps Kaha Ki‘i awards

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono was there, but Island School student Lani Johnson was not.

Hirono, who added an extension to her 17-hour flight home from Washington, D.C., arrived in time to announce the finalists in the “Kaha Ki‘i: An Artistic Discovery,” Monday afternoon.

“They had to shuttle her from one end of the airport to Hawaiian Airlines so she could make the flight here,” said Bernie Sakoda, one of Hirono’s Kaua‘i representatives.

The art teachers from Island School, Penny Nichols and Diane Ferry, whose students dominated this year’s 26th Annual Congressional Art Competition for the 2nd District, Hawai‘i, explained to Hirono that today was the first day back from Spring Break and some of the students had not returned from their break.

Of the nine Island School students who made the semi-finals, only five showed up to receive their participation awards and gift from Hirono.

“Evil Eye,” a painting charged with emotion and the use of strong colors, earned Kenji Rutter third- place honors in the semi-finals.

A linoleum block print, “Koi,” netted Justin Pelton second place honors, and Johnson’s block print was announced as the first place winner.

The top three winners will be flying to O‘ahu for the state finals April 14 along with their teachers.

The first place winner from the state competition will have the winning piece hung in Washington, D.C., while the second and third-place winners will have artwork displayed in Hirono’s Washington and Honolulu offices.

The Congressional Art Competition was launched in 1982 by the Congressional Art Caucus, an organization of members from the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate interested in supporting the arts.

The competition is open to Hawai‘i high school students in grades nine through 12 as an opportunity to exhibit their artwork on the county, state and national levels.

Monday’s semi-finals awards ceremony was held in the County Council chambers, upstairs from the lobby of the historic County Building where the artwork has been on display for a week.

Steven Nishimura served as host for the event that was judged by Fred Von Wiegen, Anna Morehead and Randall Francisco.

Students in the semi-finals included Tayler Dabin, Destiny De Treaux, John Hatakeyama, Lani Johnson, Nick Krueger, Kai Lydgate, Justin Pelton, Kenji Rutter and George Simental.

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